The RECLAIM Act (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More Act) was simultaneously introduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on March 27, 2017 by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY-5).The bill authorizes the use of funds generated by Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) to be invested in communities adversely affected by the cessation of mining operations in the area.
The RECLAIM Act’s stated goal is to help communities across the United States, but much of the targeted area of support lies in the Appalachian Mountains region (such as the U.S. states of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee). The RECLAIM Act was preceded by and amends the SMCRA, which was enacted in 1977 to decrease the amount of coal dust in downstream water resources and other mining operations that are harmful to wildlife. Shortly after SMCRA was established, the United States Department of Interior created the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) agency to enforce the law. OSMRE’s purview includes protecting wildlife, restoring abandoned mines, and making sure the regulations for surface coal mining are complied with. In addition, the agency has been charged with the administration of Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Fund. Under the RECLAIM Act, AML funds will be disbursed over the next five years, giving up to $1 billion to help clean up and restore abandoned mines.
The bill has generated support from a broad coalition of interests groups, such as Appalachian grassroots organizations, religious organizations and environmentalist groups. The organizations argue that the bill will revitalize the economies of communities that were traditionally reliant upon coal mining. Polling in Eastern Kentucky suggests that Appalachian support for the bill is not limited to lobbying groups, approximately 89% of voters support this bill.
Industry groups have lobbied against the bill, arguing that the Abandoned Mines Lands (AML) funds should not be diverted from their original purpose. The National Mining Association has stated broader opposition to the administration of AML funds.
116th Congress (2019-2020)
On March 12, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping, bipartisan public lands bill that permanently protects nearly 2.4 million acres of public lands and water. The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act creates five national monuments, protects more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness, expands two national parks, and blocks more than 370,000 acres of public lands from mining.
The bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that uses revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to protect parks, rivers, and forests across the country.
H. Res. 109 and S. Res. 59 (“The Green New Deal”)
116th Congress (2019-2020)
The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposed stimulus program that aims to address climate change and economic inequality. The name refers to the New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. The Green New Deal combines Roosevelt’s economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energyand resource efficiency.
The resolution calls for a “10-year national mobilization” whose primary goals would be:
- Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.
- Providing all people of the United States with – (i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.
- Providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States.
- Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.
- Repairing and upgrading the infrastructure in the United States, including . . . by eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible.
- Building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘smart’ power grids, and working to ensure affordable access to electricity.
- Upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.
- Overhauling transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in – (i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation; and (iii) high-speed rail.
- Spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry as much as is technologically feasible.
- Working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.
115th Congress (2017-2018)
To establish a National Wildlife Corridors Program to provide for the protection and restoration of certain native fish, wildlife, and plant species, and for other purposes.
Model Legislation from New Mexico:
Energy Transition Act (SB 489)
Arguably the most wide-ranging piece of legislation this session, this sweeping bill creates new renewable energy standards for utilities and rural electric cooperatives in the state—50 percent by 2030, 80 percent by 2040 and with the goal that 100 percent of the state’s electricity will be carbon-free by 2045. It also authorized an “alternative mechanism” for financing the retirement of coal-fired power plants, such as the San Juan Generating Station by 2022 and the Four Corners Power Plant in 2031. According to the bill’s fiscal impact report, it is also designed to mitigate the economic impacts that shutting down those plants will have on local communities.
Create Outdoor Recreation Division (SB 462)
SB 462 provides $1.5 million for the Economic Development Department to create a new division, one focusing on promoting outdoor recreation activities in the state. It also creates a 15-member outdoor recreation advisory committee and infrastructure fund and establishes an outdoor equity grant fund to create recreation programs for youth.